Use of Force Against Protesters in Iran Must Stop: UN Human Rights Office

OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani. Photo: UN
OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani. Photo: UN

A month after demonstrations erupted across Iran, the UN Human Rights Office says that unabated violent response by security forces against protesters, and reports of arbitrary arrests and the killing and detention of children are deeply worrying. 

Some sources suggest that as many as 23 children have been killed and many others injured in at least seven provinces by live ammunition, metal pellets at close range, and fatal beatings. 

Ravina Shamdasani, a spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a statement released on 18 October that a number of schools have also been raided, and children arrested by security forces. 

The statement adds that some principals have also reportedly been arrested for not cooperating with security forces. On 11 October, the Minister of Education confirmed that an unspecified number of children had been sent to “psychological centres” after they were arrested allegedly for participating in anti-State protests.

Under human rights treaties accepted by Iran, the Islamic Republic has an obligation to protect children’s right to life under any circumstances, and to respect and protect their right to freedom of expression and peaceful protest.

Along with the mass arrests of protesters, the UN Office has also received reports of the arrests of at least 90 members of civil society including human rights defenders, lawyers, artists, and journalists. On 12 October three lawyers were arrested as they demonstrated outside the bar association in Tehran.

A large number of human rights defenders, journalists, students, lawyers, opposition politicians and environmentalists are among those held at Evin prison in Tehran, where a fire broke out on 15 October.

Details of the incident remain unclear, but there were also reports of explosions and gunfire, and officials say at least eight prisoners died and 61 were injured. A number of prisoners were reportedly beaten during the incident by the security forces and transferred to other detention centres.

“We repeat previously expressed concerns about patterns of ill-treatment, torture and medical neglect of prisoners. Violations of due process including keeping prisoners incommunicado in solitary confinement with no access to a lawyer are common,” the UN Human Rights Office said in its statement.

The UN Office said that the continued unnecessary and disproportionate use of force against protesters must stop while arresting people solely for exercising their rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression constitutes an arbitrary deprivation of liberty. 

It urged the authorities to address the underlying causes of the grievances of the population instead of using violence to suppress the protests.

Courtesy: UN Human Rights Office

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